[Marxism] Zirin's Book on Sports Banned on Texas Death Row

Naveen Jaganathan naveenkj3 at gmail.com
Mon Aug 20 19:41:22 MDT 2007

Are words dangerous? Texas prison officials wouldn't let a man on Death Row
read Jackie Robinson's words, saying that to do so might lead to "strikes or
riots." By DAVE ZIRIN
Special to the Star-Telegram

Who knew sports history could strike fear in the most fearsome prison system
in the United States? But what other explanation could there be for the fact
that the history of "America's Pastime" is being denied to Texas Death Row
prisoner Kenneth Foster Jr.?

Kenneth's case has garnered international attention because both prosecution
and defense agree that he was 80 feet away from the murder of Michael
LaHood. Earlier in the evening, he had been driving the man who pulled the
trigger, Maurecio Brown. In Texas, that's enough to land him on Death Row.

Foster and I began to exchange letters on sports and politics after he read
my book *Welcome to the Terrordome. *

"I have never had the opportunity to view sports in this way," he wrote.
"And as I went through these revelations I began to have epiphanies about
the way sports have a similar existence in prison. The similarities shook me
.... Facing execution, the only thing that I began to get obsessive about
was how to get heard and be free, and as the saying goes -- you can't serve
2 gods. Sports, as you know, becomes a way of life. You monitor it, you
almost come to breathe it. Sports becomes a way of life in prison, because
it becomes a way of survival. For men that don't have family or friends to
help them financially ...it becomes a way to occupy your time. That's
another sad story in itself, but it's the root to many men's obsession with

It didn't matter whether he was on Death Row or Park Avenue -- I felt
smarter having read his words. But even more satisfying was the thought that
thinking about sports took his mind -- for a moment -- away from his
imminent death, the 11-year-old daughter he will never touch again and the
words he will never write.
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